Friday, July 30, 2004

Matrix, Simulated

Matrix
I saw this flash animation a few days ago. When I was watching it I noticed the word 'Matrix' mentioned on the bottom of the page and thought it is referring to the movie Matrix. Seeing the Flash movie again today, I noticed the link is not referring to the movie, but to a real data mining program called MATRIX (Multistate Anti-TeRrorism Information eXchange).
As ACLU website explains:
[This] surveillance system combines information about individuals from government databases and private-sector data companies.  It then makes those dossiers available for search by government officials and combs through the millions of files in a search for “anomalies” that may be indicative of terrorist or other criminal activity...
It amazes me how many metaphors created by Hollywood movies (The Star Wras, the spaceship Enterprise, or the Evil Empire) are used by American political language, and how much the reality formed in the minds of people depends on the simulated reality previously manufactured by the media. But it is even more surprising to see that nobody notices something so obvious. It is a system of manipulation of minds based on a modern-age mythology which has replaced the reality.

In the movie Matrix, the book in which the 'drug-programs' are hidden is Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation.

simulacra_matrix

Apparently the movie wants to make a parallel between Baudrillard ideas about reality and what the movie was trying to say, but as one expects from a Hollywood product it completely misses the point. While Baudrillard talks about the actual life and the ways media and the whole system functions as the Borgesian "Empror's Map" to create a reality for us, Matrix tries to remake a Christian drama with a Modern-Age savior, based on a beautifully done commercial interpretation of Berkeley's philosophy (esse is percipi, to be is to be perceived). The eventual result has nothing to do with Baudrillard.

Ironically -as we can see now- the real Baudrillardian Matrix is made somewhere else: in the Department of .. you know what. What they do under the name 'Matrix' is so much in line with the map Borges talks about: the Baudrillardian image of a reality that doesn't exist anymore. In the late '90s Wachowski Brothers asked Baudrillard to get involved in writing the script and making the movie Matrix. He never accepted. I wonder if he has ever wrote anything on the re-make, the real Matrix. That is something I love to read.

Image

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Untitled



It's not a certain society that seems ridiculous to me, it's mankind.
--Eugene Ionesco (1912-1994)

Sunday, July 04, 2004

The Bridge of Knowledge

The Bridge of Knowledge

Crawling on a self-invented bridge,
and writing the history of one's own shaky movements as if it is the only path to truth.

This is how the mankind defines 'progress.'

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Photograph: Passage.
Photogravure with chine-colle coating by Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11

Fahrenheit 9/11
Did Fahrenheit 9/11 deserve the Cannes Film Festival award? Probably not.

The movie is a great piece of TV style documentary with a certain political agenda. It is made to inform the American public about the mafia who runs the government, and more than that it is made to change their mind about the ones they choose in the next election. In its rhetoric the movie uses the same devices the Right-extremists have used for years to manipulate the public mind. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a great political pamphlet, informing people in great numbers about what is going on in their 'democracy,' but at the same time bringing itself down to the level of the least intelligent TV shows. Is it the weak point for the movie or its stregth?

The fact is that the movie can convince many people not to vote for Bush in the next election, and makes them think about the criminals in power. But at the same time this kind of argument, the kind of over-simplification of the reality (like showing pre-war Iraq as a paradise for happy children and smiling people) that we see in the movie is something that the other side of the battle is expert in it. They can easily use the same technics against the movie.

There are certain beautiful moments in the work, like when Moore reads the Patriotic Act to the members of the Congress using a loudspeaker, while he is driving a Ice-cream truck, or when he asks the Congress members to sign up their children in the Army, but a big part of the movie is playing with viewer's emotions. Listening to a mother who reads the last letter of his son, killed in Iraq, who asks people not to vote for Bush is nothing but propaganda. The son could have written something in favor of Bush, and the crying mother could be shown on Fox. So what is the difference here between these two? When I think about it I don't see that much difference in the 'languge' used in both of these cases. The truth is to be politically effective, one can't do anything but what Micheal Moore does in this move: for a nation so addicted to fast-paced TV programs, simplified reality, and fast food (not only for stomack but for brain as well,) what else can be done to convince the nation not to vote for an idiot?
I call Fahrenheit 9/11 a political 'pamphlet' because despite its claims it still works on the surface, it plays with emotions and cry scenes rather than bringing up important issues such as WMD or the fact that the new wave of American imperialism began when Clinton was in power. It emphasizes on removing certain people from power, instead of talking about the mentality that is behind American foreign policy for decades. It doesn't show the roots of what is going on behind the scene. There are a lot of information on Saudis (which at certain points, in my view, becomes somehow anti-Arab rather than anti-terrorist), but there is no mention of the gang whose policies has brought the world to such a disastrous situation.

The fact that I politically agree with Michael Moore doesn't make his movie a good film, the same way my praise for cinematic beauty of movies such as Triumph of the Will or Battleship Potemkin, or my enjoyment of listening to Israel's national anthem does not make me a pro-Nazi, pro-Communist, or pro-Zionist. I think we need to separate art from its political agenda. The works which are made for attaining certain political goals all have political expiration dates. The question is if they are deep enough and artistically rich enough to survive the oblivion of history, when their political goals are a part of a forgotten past.

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Picture: "Fahrenheit 9/11" in Asr-e Jadid (meaning "Modern World") Movie Theater in Tehran. from cappuccino.